Have you ever reached a destination and realised that there are parts of the journey there that you have no recollection of?
It may feel as if we were fast-forwarded or catapulted in time and space, yet deep down we know that our minds simply took a hike somewhere else mid-route, and then suddenly out of nowhere – BAM! we’re back! A few minutes missing from that journey.
Fortunately I can now vouch for increasingly less of these “zone out” episodes for safety reasons particularly when in a car or on a motorbike), and am truly grateful to yoga for helping to keep bringing me back, to the place where I am right now.
A few days ago I was taking a (more mindful) stroll to work, on my way to teach an early-morning class. I decided to take a longer route through the park close to home, adding an extra few minutes journey to my morning walk, to enjoy the green, green, ever-so-greenness of everything, a splash of colour and a welcome break from the buzz of traffic and commuters. Barcelona was taking its first few steps outdoors, aromas of freshly-brewed coffee and crisply baked bread were winding their way up and out of homes and buildings.
As I savoured this morning stillness, continuing onwards towards my destination, I was suddenly brought to a halt at the sight of two tiny tots crouched down on the ground, their mother chatting close-by to a neighbour who was walking her dog.
The two little boys (in perfect malasana!) were the reason I came to stand-still, completely captivated by the expression on their faces: absolute joy spread across their tiny little features. Laughter bubbled up in their throats like a fresh spring, and their smile extended across the park, Barcelona and out to the distant sea horizon.
The neighbour’s little black spaniel pup was the source of their enraptured fascination and complete and utter amazement. I was so moved and spell-bound by this second of complete and utter simplicity, pure emotion and genuine happiness, that I felt tears spring to my eyes. Pure. Joy.
The scene stayed with me in my morning classes, throughout the day and in fact those following it too. As I moved from one activity into another I continued to recreate in my mind the new, curious gaze of those fresh, young, minds. Still amazed and still open.
How to add this new, fresh gaze to the most seemingly mundane of activities?
In a yoga practice recently we were reminded how our feelings in a posture could change and be experienced so differently. Once upon a time downward-facing dog might have been a challenge and struggle, yet it had undergone metamorphosis over the weeks, months and years to become a calming respite from a hot, challenging vinyasa flow.
So whilst upside down in Adho-Mukha Svanasana, I visualised my two inspirational little teachers again, and their wonder-struck gaze. Looking inwards, I tried to feel the whole pose inside-out as if it was the very first time I had ever been there. Staying simple, without the extra layers, without analysing, without thinking or comparing. Keeping it raw.
The joy is always there, and in the simple, supposedly well-visited little moments even more so. I return again and again to those little masters of the ‘now’ to remind myself of the curiosity of the child within, the fearless, non-judgemental approach of our early years.
Wisdom in its simplest form. Children are truly great teachers.